Monday, October 29, 2012

The Handy, Helpful AB4AR Guide To Qualifying Offers

The World Series ended last night, which means Tim Lincecum is probably smoking a lot of celebratory weed right now.  It also means that the clock officially starts ticking on all the major offseason milestones, the first one being the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their pending free agents.  If you aren't familiar with the new free agent system, here's a quick rundown of how it works now.

There are no more Type A or Type B free agents; there is now a level set every year based on the average value of the 125 biggest contracts in MLB that teams can offer to any pending free agent who spent the entire previous season on their roster.  This year that value is $13.3 million.  Teams have until 5 days after the World Series to offer a qualifying deal to any pending free agent on their team who fits the criteria and then that player has 7 days to accept or decline the offer.  If they accept, they return to their team on a 1-year deal for the qualifying amount; if they decline, they are free to sign with any team and their former team is given a compensatory pick at the end of the first round of the next MLB draft.  Whatever new team the player ends up with does not have to surrender a pick, just the money that they are signing the free agent to.

The Yankees have a fair share of pending free agents this season, but only a few who are really worthy of having a qualifying offer extended to them.  As a helpful guide for the next 5 days, here is an all encompassing list of who should and should not receive an offer.

Mariano Rivera- No.  The $13.3 mil would save the team a little money off of this year's salary, but there's little risk of Mo signing elsewhere if he does decide to not play for the Yankees next season, and they can probably negotiate down to something closer to $10 million if he does want to play.

Rafael Soriano- Yes.  This one is a no-brainer.  If Soriano decides to opt out as it's been reported multiple times that he will do, the Yankees aren't going to engage in talks with him for the money he'll be seeking.  Getting out from under his deal is a good start towards the 2014 payroll plans, and an extra draft pick is the cherry on top.

Nick Swisher- Yes.  There's almost not chance the Yankees offer to bring him back at all, and if they do it won't be for the years or dollars he's looking for.  Making the qualifying offer to Swish is a way to guarantee that the Yankees get something back when they lose him.

Hiroki Kuroda- Maybe.  The Yankees should be on the phone with Kuroda's people right now trying to hammer out another 1-year deal, maybe with an option for a second year if he's interested.  If they can't work one out, a qualifying offer would be a smart way to hedge their bets.  Some teams with money to spend, like the Dodgers, will be in the market big time for Kuroda after his strong 2012 campaign.

Andy Pettitte- No.  Similar situation as Mo.  Andy can probably be had for less than the qualifying amount, and there's no risk of him signing on with somebody else if he doesn't play for the Yankees next year.  It's either pinstripes or retirement, so no need to throw that much money on the table.

Russell Martin- No.  $13.3 mil is way too much for Martin coming off the season he had.  It's more likely the Yanks try to negotiate a new 2 or 3-year deal with him for around $20-25 million.

Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez- No, no, no, and no.  These guys were all on the payroll for about $11 million combined in 2012; that tells you everything you need to know.  They aren't $13 million players anymore, and to offer them that much would be insane.

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